Opening Bell: 03.31.14

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Swiss Antitrust Regulator Probes Eight Banks Over Alleged FX-Rigging (Bloomberg)
The authorities are examining whether firms colluded to fix foreign-exchange rates, the Bern-based watchdog, also known as Weko, said in a statement today. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc are among the other firms being probed, along with Zuercher Kantonalbank and Julius Baer Group Ltd., Weko said. More banks and brokers may have been involved, the regulator added.

Yellen Says Job Market Is Far From Normal (WSJ)
"The U.S. economy is still considerably short of the two goals assigned to the Federal Reserve by the Congress" of low and stable inflation and maximum sustainable employment, Ms. Yellen told a conference on community investment.

IMF still sees advantage for 'too important to fail' banks (Reuters)
Top banks in the euro zone benefited from an implicit taxpayer subsidy of $90 billion to $300 billion in 2012 due to ongoing state support which makes them "too important to fail," the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Monday. Subsidies in the United Kingdom and Japan may have been as high as $110 billion in the period of 2011-12, while they ranged from $20 billion to $70 billion in the United States, the IMF said in a chapter of its twice-yearly "Global Financial Stability Report."

Hong Kong Regulator Probes Departed J.P. Morgan Executive (WSJ)
It isn't known why Mr. Fang decided to leave the bank after a long period as a key deal maker in China or why exactly the ICAC visited his offices. The memo from March 24 said Mr. Fang planned to retire and people familiar with the matter said he wants to spend more time with his family and pursue new opportunities.

Columbia track star chases down alleged ticket scammer (NYP)
A Columbia University track star who was duped into buying two bogus tickets ran after the alleged scammer peddling the fake ducats — and caught him after nearly 20 blocks. The Ivy Leaguer, a 20-year-old finance major, probably should have known that the Craigslist ad offering two tickets for $210 each to the hottest sporting event in the city was too good to be true...But the Ivy League victim met up with the phony salesman outside the arena anyway, trading his cash for two inkjet printouts of tickets that were worth about as much as a pair of takeout menus. “I have never been to Madison Square Garden,” said the student, who didn’t want his name used for fear of reprisal. “So I was really looking forward to it.” But when the guy and his friend presented the printouts to an MSG ticket taker before game time, they were told they were fake. The pals then immediately concocted a plan to catch the crook. They still had the hustler’s number, so the friend called the seller and pretended that he wanted more tickets. When the alleged crook arrived at a meeting place, the track star confronted him and demanded his money back. “He just thought I was some other random customer at first, and he didn’t even recognize me,” the student said. “Then, I pulled out the tickets he scammed me with.” The seller reached into his pocket as if he was retrieving the man’s money but then turned and fled. “I was running after him screaming, ‘Help! Help!’ ” the student recalled. “He was much bigger than me. But I got him.” A pedestrian helped the fleet-footed student subdue the alleged scam artist along West 50th Street, about 17 blocks from the arena, until police arrived.

'Candy Crush Saga' Maker King Digital Bets on Bigger With Job Drive (WSJ)
Mobile game developer King Digital Entertainment KING PLC, in the spotlight following a lackluster listing on the New York Exchange last week, has posted 165 job openings, representing 25% of its existing workforce. The firm is in the market for a broad swath of experts, ranging from "scrum masters" to mobile game producers able to "defy the razor-sharp competition on Facebook and in the App-store." King's blitz comes amid a disappointing first week as a traded company. Shares were listed Wednesday at $22.50, but fell to $18.08 by the end of Friday, representing a 20% decline.

Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
Centerbridge Partners LP, Oaktree Capital Management LP and Apollo Global Management LLC have been actively buying troubled debt from European banks, people familiar with the matter have said. These firms, some of which have raised big funds for distressed situations, often amass debt positions that give them significant control in a restructuring.

Spotify faces challenge from Internet giants before IPO (NYP)
With sales of music downloads slipping into decline, big guns like Google, Apple and Amazon are taking aim at the streaming music upstart as it eyes an initial public offering, possibly in the fall. First up, Google’s YouTube is prepping a Spotify-style subscription music service this summer as part of a redesign of the popular online video hub, sources told The Post. After several delays, YouTube’s relatively new boss, Susan Wojcicki, is poised to launch the service through its Music Pass app for Android mobile devices, according to sources.

All Your M&Ms Will Be Green by 2040: The Mars Mission (Bloomberg)
The Mars mission: to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2040. The maker of Snickers and M&Ms is just 3 percent green today, at least when it comes to renewable energy today. But don't worry, your green M&Ms won't cost a penny more than the coal-colored ones, according to Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer at Virginia-based Mars. The big strategy? Wait until switching is a no-brainer. “There doesn’t have to be a cost disadvantage to develop green energy,” Parkin told Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Siobhan Wagner in a Q&A published last week. Mars aims to expand its renewable power -- which includes solar plants in Nevada and New Jersey -- but only when it costs the same or less than electricity flowing from the grid, he said.

Texas man ticketed after sending picture of his pen!s with job application (NYDN)
The unnamed work hunter reportedly emailed his resume and the improper picture to the state-run Texas Workforce Solutions agency. But it was picked up by a 25-year-old female caseworker, who - disgusted - contacted cops. The Dallas Observer reports that police tracked down the man from his email address and cited him for the class C misdemeanour, according to the Dallas Observer.

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Opening Bell: 06.11.12

Nasdaq CEO Lost Touch Amid Facebook Chaos (WSJ) At the end of Facebook's disastrous first day of trading May 18, the phone in Robert Greifeld's New York office rang. It was Mary Schapiro, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, wanting an explanation from the chief executive of Nasdaq OMX Group for the epidemic of glitches and delays in one of the most anticipated initial public offerings ever. Mr. Greifeld couldn't talk. Having monitored the rocky process from Silicon Valley, where he had gone to join Facebook executives in remotely ringing the market's opening bell, he concluded the worst problems were fixed and caught a noon flight back to the East Coast. So, marooned for almost five hours in business class with a phone he says didn't work, he didn't realize that continuing breakdowns at his exchange had left countless investors not knowing how many Facebook shares they had bought or sold and at what price, nor did he know the SEC chief wanted to reach him. Three weeks later, Mr. Greifeld still isn't sure why technology systems failed during the crucial IPO. Nasdaq's failure to see the problem coming is something its engineers are still dissecting. "You wake up, you turn around, and there's a black or dull spot," Mr. Greifeld said in an interview, sucking on Life Savers candy at a conference table in his office. "You can't get away from it." Spain’s Bailout Gives Rajoy Best Chance To Fix Banks (Bloomberg) Spain’s request for as much as 100 billion euros ($125 billion) of European bailout funds may provide the country with enough money to shore up its banking system after three failed attempts in as many years. “Now that they have this money, it will hopefully finally be possible to recognize all the hidden losses and clean up the system,” Luis Garicano, a professor at the London School of Economics, said in a phone interview. The amount sought is about 2.7 times the funds deemed necessary for Spanish banks by the International Monetary Fund in a report released June 8 and five times the total requested by the Bankia group, the country’s third-biggest lender, to cleanse its balance sheet. Spain's economic misery will get worse this year despite bailout request, prime minister says (NYP) A day after the country conceded it needed outside help following months of denying it would seek assistance, Rajoy said more Spaniards will lose their jobs in a country where one out of every four are already unemployed. "This year is going to be a bad one," Rajoy said Sunday in his first comments about the rescue since it was announced the previous evening by his economy minister. IPOs Dry Up Post Facebook (WSJ) In the aftermath of Facebook's botched trading debut, the IPO market has gone three weeks without an offering, the longest drought in five months. It is the slowest stretch in initial public offerings since a four-week span at the end of 2011 and the beginning of this year, according to data from Ipreo. Greece Threatens Wall Street Jobs In Third Trading Plunge (Bloomberg) For a third consecutive year, revenue from investment banking and trading at U.S. firms may fall at least 30 percent from the first quarter, Richard Ramsden, a Goldman Sachs analyst, said in a note last week. Greece, which gave English the word “cycle,” has been the main reason each year that the second quarter soured after a promising first three months. Nickelback Review Goes Viral (Poynter) Music critic Josh Gross has written hundreds of stories about bands, but none has brought him as much attention as the brief he wrote this week about Nickelback’s upcoming appearance in Idaho, where Gross writes for the Boise Weekly. He summarizes the response: "In the past day, I have been told that I am a genius, a king amongst men and a hack that could be easily outdone by a one-armed cat. I should alternately win the Pulitzer and forcibly insert 45 pickles into my bum. There has been little middle ground. Why? Because I had the audacity to point out that seeing Canadian “rock” band Nickelback at the Idaho Center may not be the best use of one’s $45." Gross wrote of the Nickelback: "You can spend $5 to go see Nickelback this week. Or you could buy 45 hammers from the dollar store, hang them from the ceiling at eye level and spend an evening banging the demons out of your dome...$45 is also enough to see Men In Black III five times, buy a dozen Big Macs, do 10 loads of laundry or so many other experiences as banal and meaningless as seeing Nickelback but come without actually having to hear Nickelback. But if you must, the band is playing The Idaho Center on Wednesday, June 13, at 6PM tickets start at $45." Dimon Faces Washington Grilling Over Trading Debacle (Reuters) The Senate Banking Committee has asked Dimon to come prepared Wednesday to provide "a thorough accounting of the trading losses," a committee aide said. Senators will also ask what he knew about the risks involved in the trading strategy. Fed Colleague Backs Dimon (WSJ) "I do not think he should step down," Lee Bollinger said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He said Mr. Dimon appears to have done nothing wrong, that critics attacking the Fed have a "false understanding" of how it works, and that it is "foolish" to say Mr. Dimon's presence on the New York Fed board creates an appearance of a conflict when the law requires bankers to serve on such boards. Private lunch with investor Warren Buffett sells for $3.5 million (WaPo) The previous four winning bids have all exceeded $2 million with records set every year. Last year’s winner, hedge fund manager Ted Weschler, paid $2,626,411. India Could Be First BRIC to Lose Investment Grade: S&P (Reuters) Standard & Poor's said on Monday that India could become the first of the so-called BRIC economies to lose its investment grade status, sending the rupee and stocks lower, less than two months after cutting its rating outlook for the country. "Slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policymaking are just some of the factors pushing up the risk that India could lose its investment-grade rating," the ratings agency said in a statement issued Monday on a report dated June 8. Town Considers Fines For Cursing (WSJ) Mimi Duphily was hanging baskets of pink geraniums on antique street lamps downtown for the Middleborough Beautification and Activities Group when she noticed something else that needed cleaning up—citizens' mouths. "The cursing has gotten very, very bad. I find it appalling and I won't tolerate it," said Ms. Duphily, a civic leader in the otherwise quiet New England community, which calls itself the Cranberry Capital of the World. "No person should be allowed to talk in that manner." Soon, Middleborough residents who do could risk a $20 fine. Ms. Duphily, 63 years old, tried scolding the cursers—whom she describes as young people shouting the "F word" back and forth—with a stern, "Hey kids, that's enough!" Then she conferred with the Beautification and Activities Group, which informed the Middleborough Business Coalition, which then called a summit with Middleborough Police Chief Bruce Gates, who now, in his sworn role, is trying to stomp out swears.

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Opening Bell: 7.1.16

Hershey rejects Mondelez; Apple in talks with Tidal; Currency funds continue 3-year losing streak; Police break down door to rescue inflatable sex doll; and more.

Opening Bell: 3.16.15

Germans want Greece to GTFO; Father/daughter financial advisers/cheerleaders exit Merrill Lynch; "The man drives through the mall, nearly hitting several bystanders, while being chased by the police"; AND MORE.

Opening Bell: 11.27.12

Greece's Creditors Reach Aid Deal (WSJ) struck a deal in Brussels to cut Greece's debt to a level below 124% of gross domestic product by 2020, officials said. To satisfy IMF concerns that Greece's debt must fall even more to be considered "sustainable," euro-zone ministers agreed to bring the government's debt to under 110% of GDP in 2022. The deal will allow Greece to receive loan payments of about €44 billion ($57 billion) to be paid in three installments early 2013, tied to Greece's implementation of the continuing measures, said Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker. The deal will lower Greece's debt through a mix of interest-rate cuts on loans to Athens, a buyback of Greek debt at sharply discounted prices and the European Central Bank returning profits linked to its holdings of Greek bonds to the Greek government. London Bankers Bracing for Leaner Bonuses Than New York (Bloomberg) nvestment bankers and traders at European banks should expect at least a 15 percent cut in pay this year, while U.S. lenders may leave compensation unchanged, three consultants surveyed by Bloomberg said. That’s because bonus pools at European banks may be reduced by as much as half, while those at U.S. firms, which can cushion the impact of falling fees in the region with earnings from home, may fall 20 percent, they said. “The real split is coming, and we will see the quantum divide this year,” said Tom Gosling, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London, referring to the difference in pay between the two financial centers. “U.S. regulators don’t have the same obsession with pay structures that European regulators have.” Dimon Would Be Best to Lead Treasury in Crisis, Buffett Says (Bloomberg) “If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job,” Buffett said in response to a question about Dimon from Charlie Rose, according to the transcript of an interview that was scheduled to air yesterday on PBS. “World leaders would have confidence in him.” [...] Dimon, once dubbed Obama’s “favorite banker” by the New York Times, said in a 2011 CNBC interview that he could never work as Treasury secretary and was “not suited to politics.” Carney Abondons A Haven, Leaping Into British Storm (WSJ) Philipp Hildebrand, the former head of the Swiss National Bank, described Mr. Carney as one who "speaks bluntly and politely." The son of a professor and a teacher, Mr. Carney grew up in Edmonton, the capital of Canada's western province, Alberta. He played hockey as an undergraduate at Harvard. Mr. Carney has close links to Britain, having studied in Oxford University in the early 1990s. He worked for a time in Goldman Sachs' London office...Known as a diplomat, Mr. Carney, who supports the Edmonton Oilers NHL team, in his Ottawa office displays a mock street sign alluding to one of Canada's other pro teams, the Ottawa Senators. He cultivates an everyman image, recently discussing his musical tastes—from AC/DC to the hip-hop group Down with Webster—in local media interviews. Fiscal Cliff Compromise Elusive as Congress Returns (Bloomberg) “There’s still a great deal of ground that has to be covered before they get anywhere near a budget deal, and time is running” short, said Phil English, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and now a lobbyist at Arent Fox LLP in Washington. The Secret Powers Of The Son-In-Law (WSJ) In couples where the husband initially reported being close to his wife's parents, the risk of divorce over the next 16 years was 20% lower than for the group overall. Yet when the wife reported being close to her in-laws, that seemed to have the opposite effect: The risk of divorce with these couples was 20% higher. Dr. Orbuch has a possible explanation: The wife who feels close with her husband's parents may find it difficult to set boundaries and over time may come to see their close relationship with her as meddling. "Because relationships are so important to women, their identity as a wife and mother is central to their being," says Dr. Orbuch, author of the 2012 book "Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship." "They interpret what their in-laws say and do as interference into their identity as a spouse and parent." Men, for the most part, don't have this problem. Their identity as a father and a husband is often secondary to their identity as a provider, Dr. Orbuch says. As a result, they don't tend to take what their in-laws do so personally. Chicago, Illinois charges woman $105,761 for parking infractions she did not commit (TN) Jennifer Fitzgerald is fighting back against the city, her ex-boyfriend and United Airlines with a lawsuit filed November 2 in Cook County Circuit Court. According to the complaint, the somewhat confusing story starts when her former boyfriend Brandon Preveau, bought a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo from Fitzgerald's uncle for $600 in 2008. Despite paying all the fees associated with owning a vehicle (registration, title and insurance) he put the vehicle's registration in Fitzgerald's name -- something the West Side Chicago resident claims was done without her knowledge...the couple broke up at the start of 2009 and Preveau took the car with him after their split. He used the Monte Carlo to drive to work at O'Hare Airport where he was employed by United Airlines. Preveau would leave the vehicle in O'Hare parking lot E, a secured outdoor lot surrounded by high chain link fencing, that is open to the flying public but also utilized by airport employees. The parking lot is owned by the city of Chicago and operated by Standard Parking Corporation, but according to the complaint, United Airlines leases spaces in the lot for use by airline employees. Unbeknownst to Fitzgerald, Preveau abandoned the vehicle. According to the complaints, "On or before November 17, 2009, Brandon drove the automobile into the parking lot and never drove it out again." While the car Preveau drove began receiving parking tickets at the O'Hare lot as early as May 23, 2009, the key date for this story is November 17, 2009. On that day the vehicle was issued seven different parking tickets including being in a hazardous and dilapidated condition, no city sticker, broken headlights, missing or cracked windows, expired plates, being an abandoned vehicle and most importantly a violation for parking a vehicle for more than 30 days in a city-owned lot. Intrade, Facing Charges, Won't Take U.S. Bets (WSJ) The online-predictions exchange Intrade—known for offbeat markets on presidential politics and the Academy Awards—said it would no longer accept bets from U.S. residents. The move came just hours after U.S. regulators filed a civil complaint against the firm over its commodities-focused markets. "We are sorry to announce that due to legal and regulatory pressures, Intrade can no longer allow U.S. residents to participate in our real-money prediction markets," the Dublin-based company said in a statement on its website. Intrade said that existing customers must exit their trades and close their accounts. In China, Hidden Risk of 'Shadow Finance' (WSJ) Shadow finance in China totals about 20 trillion yuan, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., or about a third the current size of the country's bank-lending market. In 2008, such informal lending represented only 5% of total bank lending. The sector is lightly regulated and opaque, raising concerns about massive loan defaults amid a softening economy, with ancillary effects on the country's banks. Harvard Doctor Turns Felon After Lure of Insider Trading (Bloomberg) Today, Joseph F. "Chip" Skowron III, 43, is serving a five-year term for insider trading at the federal prison at Minersville, Pennsylvania. At FrontPoint, Skowron lied to his bosses and law enforcement authorities, cost more than 35 people their jobs and stooped to slipping envelopes of cash to an accomplice. FrontPoint is gone. Morgan Stanley, which once owned FrontPoint, is seeking more than $65 million from Skowron, whose net worth a year ago was $22 million. Until he’s a free man, his wife of 16 years will have to care for their four children and Rocky, their golden retriever, on her own...Health care has become America’s sweet spot for insider traders like Skowron. Among researchers, physicians, government officials and corporate executives, the lure of easy money in health-care insider trading has become epidemic. Since 2008, about 400 people were sued by regulators or charged with insider trading; of those, at least 94 passed or received tips involving pharmaceutical, biotechnology or other health-care stocks. Man Arrested For Saying He Had Dynamite in His Luggage at Miami International Airport (NBC) A man was arrested for telling a TACA ticket agent that he had dynamite in his luggage, which prompted the partial evacuation of Concourse J at Miami International Airport on Monday, Miami-Dade Police said. Alejandro Leon Hurtado, 63, a doctor from Guatemala, faces a charge of false report bomb/explosives at airport, the arrest affidavit said. It wasn't immediately known if Hurtado had an attorney. The ticket agent had just accepted Hurtado luggage, when he asked him about whether it contained hazardous materials. Hurtado answered that he had dynamite in the baggage, and the ticket agent asked him again if he had dynamite in his bag, and he replied that he did and started laughing, the affidavit said. "Once the Defendant was told that police were going to be called the Defendant stated that he was joking," the affidavit said. Hurtado admitted he did say he had dynamite in his bag, but that it was a joke. Hurtado was in custody on an immigration hold Monday night, according to online Miami-Dade Corrections records.

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Opening Bell: 6.16.17

Neel Kashkari isn't here to make friends; Jes Staley is in trouble again, again; coming soon to a major metropolitan area near you: Teen PD; and more.

Opening Bell: 9.2.15

Blythe Masters's next act; Canada's commodities woes; IMF's Asia warning; "Day Care Teachers Encouraged Kids to Brawl, Posted 'Fight Club' Videos to Snapchat: Prosecutors"; and more.